Sunday, December 4, 2011

Learning To Fly

"I suppose I'm learning."

If I had a penny for every time I have said that, or heard someone else say that, I'd be rich!!  Is there ever a time when we are done learning? ...I suppose when we die.  (or is that too harsh?)

About a month ago, I was in my kitchen cooking up some food, and I overheard something on the news.  It made me stop what I was doing, and look at the TV.
For those of you that know me, you know that I do NOT like to watch TV, let alone the news.
The news anchor was reporting that there was an investigation in the production of synthetic drugs.  I immediately became confused.  Why would someone produce synthetic drugs!?  From what I gathered, synthetic drugs are produced in order to make drugs cheaper.  Still confused?  Well, after some research on the matter, I found that the drugs that are being produced, are made by mixing chemicals together to produce the drug.  I also found that the synthetic drugs result in the same desired effect on the body.  This ticks me off!!  ...for several reasons.
1. I never really understood the altering of the chemicals in the body to feel a certain way.  Even when I drank (which is classified as a 'drug', I never really understood.  I hated the feeling.  I just drank to be cool)
2. ^^^ how bad does that sound for you?  Just saying.  I mean, ALTER the chemicals in your body.  Is that even safe?  But I suppose over the counter meds, and prescription medication alters the chemicals as well.
So, isn't that the problem!?  What used to be, when humans existed LONG ago...before all of the 'drugs'?? I supposed they used other natural remedies to suppress the pain they had, or the anxiety.  But isn't that the problem?  Why are we wired in that way?  Why are humans so selfish?  Why is it that our internal self desires so much more than it can have?  Why do we strive for the perfect this, the perfect that, to achieve the perfect feeling?  Again, why are we wired that way?  I once watched a documentary on anxiety and stress among humans.  We are high stress beings...that being obvious.  But what is the true meaning behind all of that?  Why are we so anxious?  Well, studies prove that humans have the innate ability to be stressed, for certain situations.  For instance, when humans had to hunt for food, and fend for their lives, they had to be stressed out someway, in order for the body to react [and survive].  So did that just carry over, as we evolved?  Eh, I don't like that word, "evolved".  (I will touch on this at another time)..."became more advanced."  I believe the answer to be a resounding yes.  And because we stress, we would like a remedy for that.  I mean, who on this earth wants to be stressed!?  So we seek medicine for it, food for it, and put other things into our bodies to relieve the stress, for the momentary satisfaction.
3. This is the main reason why I so highly dislike(d) this report: these are chemists, that are producing these synthetic drugs.  That, I'm sure you could already assume.  Now think about this: there are how many doctors in the world?  And how many diseases and illnesses do we have?  How many have a cure? many don't?  I don't have the specifics, nor the numbers on it.  And yeah, there is some reason to believe that many diseases are forever evolving and reoccurring, leading to the inability to cure them.  But what if, in an all perfect world, these same doctors.  Yeah, the ones spending days to produce a synthetic drug.  What if they devoted their time to something else?  Perhaps, hmm...curing a disease.  One that causes deaths to hundreds of thousands (if not millions), each year!  I get the mindset.  They are just looking for a quick dollar (which is wrong nonetheless, in a way that is harming other people).  And yes, they are/were punished for this offense already.  But don't you see what I'm getting at!?!?

Why are we so focused on the exterior, and the outer layer of things?  This world has nothing better to do, than to research how to make a drug cheaper and more effective?  ...FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!! It's a recreational drug!!!  It's not like they were testing drugs to help...ugh enough.  What I am saying is that this world is filled with wasted talent.  People with PhD.'s screwing around in medical labs, people with the ability to create and innovate...sitting at a dead end job.  There are politics behind it, and there are people who know people, who...well...know people.  But COME ON!!!  I have grown tired of it.  I suppose we are all guilty of it.  But why don't we act on it then?  Why have we become so freaking accustom to sitting around waiting for someone else to change the world, when we can just try for ourselves!?  Okay, that has to be a quote from somewhere! hah  But that's my point, anyhow.  And take it from me.  I have wasted years of my life, muddling around, doing who knows what, instead of getting out and doing the things I do best.  I suppose I am still learning what I do best, as we all are.  That still shouldn't be used as an excuse.  We are our own method to our madness!


I was thinking about how we learn.  I learn something new everyday.  As a matter of fact, I can probably name several things that I learn each day!  Nonetheless, learning is an important part of the development of humans.  Do we have a maximum capacity for learning?  Yes, I know that my grandfather knows more than I do.  And he has learned a heck of a lot in his lifetime.  What if we develop some sort of mental deficiency, leading to a regression in mental capacity?  Do we learn until the day we die?  What about after we die?  Do we still learn things then?  That I don't know.  The answer to all these questions, I don't know.  I stumped myself.  I am able to admit that I don't know all of the answers in life.  What I do know is this:  I am learning.  Everything that is meant for me to learn, I will.  And everything after I die will come when I pass on.  Because if I am too curious about where I'm going, I must remember that I ain't got wings.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Is It With...!?

This weekend, I made my way to Orlando.  I spent the whole time with my girlfriend.  We went to just about every place in Orlando that we could over the course of a weekend.  We visited friends at UCF, visited some theme parks (rode rides, went into stores, etc.), and really got into our inner tourist mode.  It was great!! I loved to see her, and I loved to go back to a place that was so frequently visited as a child.

While I was there, I learned a couple of things about myself:

I like people.  I know that sounds strange.  And if anyone can attest for how outrageous that sounds, it would be the person who was next to me the entire weekend.  I said countless things about how irritating Orlando was; how I never wanted to return, how annoying tourists are, how bad the roads are there, how bad the drivers can be.  I didn't sound too pleased.  And if my trip was based on my comments, it would sound like a part in Chevy Chase's movie, Vegas Vacation.

But I REALLY like people!!!

In my moments of frustration, I realized something.  I am not the only one.  I wasn't the only one in the entire city.  I wasn't the only one driving.  I wasn't the only one lost.  People around me weren't the only tourists.  I fit in just right.  But that is not any sort of excuse for my behavior, by any means.  If anything, I should have been acting in a more friendly, welcoming manner; polite with my speech and mannerisms.

I suppose you can say I have been working on this.  But hindsight sure as heck is 20/20.  I find it much easier to look back and comment on what I have said/done, than it is to take strides in the present day.  So, as I usually do, I have been thinking about why this is.  Do I have an answer for it?  ha..NO!  But I have some insight into my new mentally established thoughts and reasoning on the matter.

One of my secret vices is not thinking before I speak or act.  It used to be worse in the past, but I have become better at controlling myself (or censoring myself) lately.  It's a process, making a decision.  One that happens so fast in our brains, that we generally aren't consciously aware of the decision being contemplated...until after we do them.  Eh chem..."hindsight is 20/20."  Anyway, the way I have been able to work on that vice is to actually attempt to think out the pros and cons of each decision/result.  Am I always right?  No.  And I let myself get in the way of myself at times as well.

Whoa, [WAIT a minute!?] what?  

Yes, I admittedly allow myself to stumble and battle with myself.  No, that doesn't mean verbally or physically fighting with myself.  I am talking about it from a mental standpoint.  For instance, when I am trying to decide whether or not to let someone in front of me, in bumper to bumper traffic, when I have to be in class in 10 minutes, and there is no way I will get there on time.  I could either move up and not them in (for myself), or I could just hold back and let the car through (for them).  In the end, [the funny part is] more times than not, the driver pulls through my lane into the traffic beside me.  I see it as God's way of saying, "Look, see, was it that big of a deal!?"  And that's isn't.  In the end, letting that person in makes me feel better.  I look at it like this (and this helps a lot): how would I feel if I were in their shoes?

Another secret vice I have, is the inability to withhold from worry.  I have gotten much better at it, but I still cause myself stress and worry (unnecessarily).  This worry is covered on a broad spectrum.  I worry about the smallest things, to the largest things.  One thing that I used to do all the time, is worry about my life.  I used to map out everything.  My entire future could be written out on a single sided loose leaf sheet of paper, with everything on it.  I have grown to understand that this is NOT how it should be!  Who am I to be planning out my entire life?  First off, doesn't that just set myself up for a let down??  Secondly, isn't God the One who has planned everything?  Shouldn't I trust in Him, and understand that it is (and always will be) His plan!?  I now live by this, that I learned: my plans < God.  But wait, does that mean that we shouldn't plan ahead, or desire things for our future?  I believe that it is healthy to have ambition; to strive for something great.  But if we turn to God, and strive to live for Him, then our path will become clear.  Do I plan ahead?  Yes.  But I am weary with how I do so.  I make sure not to look too far into the future, where I am unable to feel what He is leading me to.  

The idea of self.  Allowing ourselves to get in the way of ourselves.  One last thing on that topic.  Along with doing things for others and not trying to re-write God's plan, there lies the idea of confidence.  I believe that everyone has a sense of confidence in themselves.  But confidence is not defined as 'knowing that you are the best.'  There is absolutely zero reason why anyone should think that...but it still seems to be a popular thing to do.  People tend to make themselves something they aren't.  Boasting and bragging about themselves, and what they will become.  That, to me, is fake.  It is not believable.  And I have no problem with acknowledging that it is a sin.  It kills me to say that.  And I am not one to judge, ever.  But with myself, I try to ensure that I stay far away from this issue.  

Here are some bible verses to think about, in relation to this post:

Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

James 4:10
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

1 Peter 5:6-7
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I know that the question may come up, in reading my blog posts:  why does it always come back to God?


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Assume The Position

Before I delve deep into a few different areas of thought, I must preface this post.  I would like to make a point that these topics are not directed at someone or something in particular.  They are simply thoughts that I had, and continue to have, so I decided it was time to share them.

I have a question.  What does it mean to be normal?

Sir Webster says it means: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule, or principle; conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.

Okay, but what is being normal?  Beyond the definition, beyond the everyday burnt out usage of it...what is being normal?  Does it mean to not fall too far away from what everyone else is doing?  In that case, there is a problem!

If we are concerned with being normal, that is not falling too far away from what everyone else is doing, then we are in trouble.  And yes, we all are guilty of being this person, at certain points in our lives.  Wearing certain clothes to try and fit in, talking a certain way in an attempt to be like everyone else, hanging out with certain people so you can be included in the "cool" group, etc.

Why do we get so concerned with being normal?

I believe people become afraid of what others will think of them.  And this isn't just the case for adolescents, it grows on adults as well.  There's always that person trying to get in every picture, the person always wondering what their friends think of them, etc.  The problem is, they become so consumed with how they will be perceived, that they lose the entire meaning of life.

Who freaking cares what car you drive?  Who cares what designer bag/clothes you have?  Who cares how many people you know?  Who cares how many places you have been?  Who cares what you look like?

It's the concept of self.

Consumed in the likeness of ourselves, losing the ability to see the meaning of life, because we are in our own way.  It's simple, and easily solved.  It comes in another definition of 'normal':
occurring naturally

It's that simple!  What is normal, is naturally occurring. 

We all have influences in our lives; family, friends, media, etc.  It is how we use those outlets of knowledge and information, that lead to our successes or our failures in life.  I believe that self consumed people are unmanageable for me.  That doesn't mean that I judge them, or that I was never as they are.  I am just making a point, that I have learned that it is growing extremely hard for me to be able to deal with people who make themselves the focus.  

As I write in my blog, and include my thoughts, with an infinite amount of 'I's used, I wouldn't want the focus to be on me.  I must reiterate that I am presenting thoughts.  I am not trying to say that I am right.  As a matter of fact, I don't believe that everything I say holds truth to it.  The intent is to spark thought amongst yourselves, with the hope that I can offer some alternative insight. 

To conclude my thought on being "normal", I would like to make a point, spiritually.  

I believe that being a Christian is a normal thing.  It is the largest religion in the world, and continues to grow.  But I believe that being a CHRISTIAN is not a "normal" thing.  Being a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ; striving to live as He lived, for all the days of our lives.  It is rare that people exemplify Jesus on a regular basis, therefore making it a step out of the norm.  Point being, instead of getting caught up in what people think, try this on for size; get caught up in what Jesus thinks. 

Maybe it will serve as a  postscript (P.S.), but I had this thought conjured in my mind the other day, and I kind of just ran with it.  It is an idea relating to feelings in a relationship. 

Someone catches your eye, so you go talk to the person.  You find them to be very interesting.  Then you begin to like them.  So you begin hanging out with them on a regular basis.  Then, you begin to really like them, and maybe have some feelings of lust/infatuation/extreme likeness.  So, you increase the rate at which you spend time with the person.  Over a great period of time (which varies from relationship to relationship), you become enthralled with the person, and fall in love.  And they lived happily ever after.

But what happens next?

I can see it with different relationships, mainly between my grandparents and parents, that this is all well and good to a certain extent.  I thoroughly believe that my grandparents are in love.  But why do they always nag each other, and talk trash about each each other?  I feel that they are in love, but they don't necessarily like each other anymore, or as much.  In an ideal and perfect situation, and I only assume how incredibly awesome this is.  The ability to like someone again, after you are in love with them.  When you reach that point of ridiculously comfortability with that person, and you are so settled that nothing could ever rock you two, try liking that person again.  Tell them how much you actually care for them.  Show them how much you actually care for them.  Be there for them at all times.  Display your likeness for them, amidst the extravagant love.  Because that, is what I call perfection in a relationship. 


Friday, October 7, 2011

It is Time...

I presently have many thoughts.  Why do I feel like it is necessary for me to preface a blog about my thoughts, with that statement?

I figure because this entry may turn into another one of my rants.

**Sigh** Here goes nothing..

Okay.  I feel like I have been on a spiritual tear lately.  I feel like I am catching myself doing/saying/thinking bad things, and stopping myself.  I am trying to make myself the best person I can be.  Most importantly, I have been going to God more.  On a moment by moment basis, rather than when I get to it.  It has helped improve my morale, in turn, making it much more enjoyable to go throughout my days.

A lot happened this past weekend.  I went on a road trip with my youth pastor, to a few of the state colleges.  Along the way, I learned many things.

The first thing that I learned, is how to be happy, and free from momentary worries.  In the car on Friday morning, windows down (not too good of an A/C in his car (side note: I sweat the most than anyone I know, and have this ridiculously insane body heat that seems to have a hard time cooling down)), cruising through the state, I realized somethings.

1. Worry
Why do we worry about the little things?  I know we may ask ourselves this on the daily, but seriously!  I wonder this all the time, but as I began to sweat through my shirt on the car ride, I realized I have changed.  The guy that used to get twirked out about being uncomfortable, hot, etc., was the same guy just chilling (figuratively, obviously).  As a result of this discovery about myself, I learned something else.

2. Life
There is more to life than to have to think too deeply in the momentary, small picture.  Finding myself forced into a position where I would formerly be extremely uncomfortable, I was able to embrace life.

TANGENT:  This is my new thing.  A new realization, if you will.  What we have is a gift.  I believe I have already acknowledged that in a previous entry.  But next time you get in your car, roll the windows down, drive the speed limit, feel the wind, and embrace it.  Next time you see something, a flower, or a tree, or even freshly cut grass, take a look, a smell, and embrace it.  How do you embrace life?  Here's kind of how it struck me the other day:  Jesus is God's gift to us.  Naturally, as church has taught us, we are supposed to embrace Him.  But think about it for a second.  When it is a holiday or our birthday, and we may receive do we treat them?  Let's say you open the gift, and you despise it.  So you put it on the shelf to hang.  Not really paying it any mind.  Now, what if you really think it's okay?  So you store it somewhere, and use it every once in a while, right?  And what if you open the gift you have received, and you absolutely LOVE it!?  So you use the item to it's greatest ability, until it runs out.  Now put Jesus in the place of the material gift you may have gotten.  Is He just hanging on your shelf, used every once in a while, or is He being used to his greatest ability?  See, the neat thing that I have learned, is that Jesus is the greatest gift we have received...ever!  He isn't a lame, that just gets tossed into your closet.  He isn't just okay...and gets used periodically.  He isn't used until He runs out either.  He is ever lasting.
As I drove home from school today, I had the thought in my head...Jesus is always there, God is always in us since the beginning of time.  It's just a matter of how you use the gift.

P.S. a few updates...
I have had a week of awesomeness, and have decided that I have added the goal to go to seminary upon completion of undergraduate studies.  It is something that I have thought about in the past, but now I just feel so called to do it.  God has placed it on my heart for a reason.  And with that, I am thoroughly, newly excited for what God has to offer in my life.  Yeah there are going to be times where it may be rough, but knowing He is always there is quite reassuring.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Noted Revelation

The average human being lives to be 67.2 years old.

When you look into the rear view mirror of your life, at whatever age you may be, what do you see?

Do you see the successes, the failures, a combination of the two?

And then how would you rate your life, on a scale of 1-10?  Or how about if your life was a movie?  5 stars, two thumbs up?

I would have to say that if my life was a movie, it would be a box office flop!  There are too many ups and downs, and by the time the roller coaster ride of a film came to an end, viewers would be nauseated.  Looking back at my life, there are certain points that stick out at me.  I figure that it is time to share.

  • From the time I could remember, I have never had a home in which there existed a relationship between my mother and father.  Growing up was a constant push and pull.  I had the feeling of resentment towards my step mother for the longest time.  I also gradually began to gravitate towards my step father for fatherly comfort.  As time progressed, I learned more about my family (all spread wide by now).
  • When I was 13, I had a Bar Mitzvah.  My father's family is Jewish, and as tradition has it, it was my turn.  I remember the year, or so, leading up to it.  All of the preparation; learning terms, prayers, etc., in another language.  On top of all that, having to do the invitation/party coordination.  It was a fun ride though.  I seemingly enjoyed having the party and counting all my earnings at the end of the night, most of all.  
  • At the age of 16 is when I had my stab at what life can hit you with.  On April 30th of that year, my grandfather passed away.  It was my first conscious experience with death, being a person I had been close with.  It also signified the first time in my life that I sought after God, and also questioned Him.  Soon after, I became baptized at my church.  That day, I professed my faith in Jesus Christ.  Soon after, I got into my first car accident.  I totaled my old, beater car, and came face-to-face with a little reality.  
  • When I was 17 years old, I lost my virginity.  Something made to be sacred, and planned, went totally wrong.  As classic as it became, it led to an interesting following few years.
  • At 18, I went off to college.  I went away to school, far from home.  In my first year there, I made chasing tail a hobby.  I found myself so narrow-minded in my relationship focus, that it makes me cringe.  
  • Still away at school, at 19, just following my freshman year, I became carried away.  I was eventually diagnosed with genital herpes.  This led me to feel like the butt of the majority of jokes, punch lines, and stabs.  And at the time, less than a handful of people even knew about it.  I eventually let it go, and avoided the frustrations by it.  I just had to be more careful.  The year or so following that, I continued with my extra curricular activities.
  • I came home from school after my second year.  I enrolled at a local state university, and aimed to better myself.  The sexual activity decreased, and I began to attend church more regularly again. (correlation?)
  • I presently have not had sex in nearly a year, and am not planning on it anytime soon.  I am in a loving relationship, and am finally doing well in school as well.
What changed in me?

Riddle of the day:
He is all over the place, yet around you and within you, at ALL times.

Any guesses?

God is the reason I have taken off, up and down the roller coaster of life.  And even at such a young age, I am still able to recognize the gift I have been given.  My faith is something that I attempt, with everyday, not to take for granted.  I have come this far, and will continue to move forward in strengthening my faith and relationship with God. 

While I was working out today, it hit me.  Christians make up 2-3 billion of the worlds population.  That makes 1/3 of the population Christian.  Also, it is still recognized as the fastest growing religion worldwide.  

With all the Christians in the world, why do we continue to have world problems?  Because a Christian is defined as living life like Christ, correct?  Therefore, we should obey the commandments and love our neighbors, right?

Something struck a chord in me today.  Here's the way I see it:

If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we turn off the TV?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we turn off the pornography?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we mute the profanity?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we stop the drunkenness?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we stop the fighting?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we love each other?
If He gave up His life for us, then why can't we give more than an hour on "most" Sundays?

Jesus gave His whole life up for us.

It is time to step outside of the pews, and into the streets.  It is time to allow God to mold us, and shape us into who HE wants us to be, not who we aspire to be.  It is time to do God's work.  It's simple, all we have to do is listen.

Fun Fact (concept borrowed from a loved one): A human being is supposed to get 8 hours of sleep each night.  That equals 2,920 hours of sleep each year.  Going to church every Sunday, for one hour, equals 52 hours of church each year.  If being a Christian means to live our lives like Jesus Christ, then we need to give more.

Jesus lived to be [an estimated] 33 years of age.

Give more than half of your life.

Luke 9:23-26

Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?  Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All of You, and well, none of me


"How did that happen?"  "Man, you're lucky!!"  "What a coincidence?!"

Ten years ago from today, I was sitting in my math class in middle school.  It was our third period class.  I remember hearing some chatter, from the lucky ones with cell phones at such a young age.  "We are under attack!!!"  I blew it off...until I received more information of what was actually happening.

Ten years ago from today, my father sat in an office in New York City, on a business trip.  He received an email that the breakfast meeting in the cafe, in one of the towers in the World Trade Center, was cancelled for that morning.


Within the hour, a plane struck the first tower.  We all know the rest of the story from there.  Lives lost, trauma to millions of people around the world.  

To be realistic, imagine with me, for a second.  Let's say the meeting isn't cancelled.  Instead, let's just say that the meeting is called, and they proceed as planned.  Imagine a life without a father.  The one you love. The one you have grown up with your ENTIRE life.  What then?  Why was it my father, when hundreds, if not thousands, of fathers died that day?  See, I have a split family; and have had it this way for the last 18 years.  So I would have had a fatherly figure in my life regardless.  So why take away the father of the newborn, and leave mine for me? 

My life would not have been the same.  For weeks and months after September 11, 2001, I spoke about this story as if I should be praised or treated differently.  All because my father dodged death that morning.  Why is it that I sit here, ten years later, shaken still by September 11th.  Not because of the actually events that took place that day, but for the fact that my future life plans were being taken care of.  It took me ten years to realize it.


Since that date in 2001, a lot has changed in my life.  Beyond the obvious physical changes, a lot has gone on mentally and spiritually.  In 2006, I came face-to-face with God.  Following my grandfather's death, I acknowledged God.  It was the first time in my life that I had ever questioned God.  I didn't understand, and I longed for some sort of peace of mind and heart, for what had been taken from me.  It just didn't seem right.  From then on, life began to take its shape for me.  I started to see God in nearly my every day actions.  And five years later, on this date, I am thankful for my father.  Better yet, my Father.  He has come through for me, on countless occasions in my life.  I couldn't ever do it without him...Him.

In one moment, life could change drastically...God's plan>my plans


I have been lost in wonder, lately.  I found myself in deep thought about the actions that I take, and how they reflect on who I am.  Then I began to wonder; where do I get it from?  Where do I get the idea to pursue something like I do?  Is it innate?  What does innate even mean?

innate (adj.): 1. Inborn; natural

I am a FIRM believer that God created us all.  And in doing so, He made it possible for all of us to do the things we do, and the things we will do in the future.  So, our actions deemed innate; natural, inborn...come from the maker of all things?  Is that, then, why our actions not only reflect ourselves, but [as told to us in the Bible] reflect God as well?  So, if our actions are innate, then it is something that God put on our heart?

innate (adj.): 2. Originating in the mind

Maybe it is simply that 'innate' is the wrong word.  Maybe 'innate' is something that our mind, innately created.  What am I getting at?  I am saying that I feel like people are viewing life with blinders.  I feel like we are only merely skimming the surface.

And that is bad because...?

If I am able to get deep within myself, aside from all the other stuff going on in my life (work, school, etc.), what is my life like?  God is at the center of my life.  He created me, in doing so, making it possible for all things to be done.  And yes, many people recognize that fact.  But how many of us actually reflect that in our lives?

I am guilty of it, daily.  If I had a sheet, that listed the +/- of all the actions I made, I would be so close to the all negative sign, it scares me.  I have bad thoughts, bad things said; not reflecting God.  Just to add clarification, I am not striving to be God.  I am merely attempting to do my best to show how amazing God truly is.  So, as I do to myself daily, I ask you...what is your life reflecting?  When you are able to get deep within yourself, how are you reflecting God in your lives today?


God gives us all gifts.  It is as simple as it sounds.  But allow me to elaborate.

The gifts we receive are not material things.  How often do we step out of our front door, to a pile of money?  And let me guess, you looked up and saw a brand spanking new (fill in the blank with a super nice dream car) sitting in your driveway?  And when you went over to the car, you noticed that there was the hottest person sitting in the passenger seat telling you to take them anywhere, and that they were at your whim?

As great as that whole thing sounds, to the majority of people who have ever allowed their mind to drift into a fantasy world (where there are hearts, stars, horse shoes, clovers, and blue moons), life is not like that.  

But this is what life is like:
You wake up daily.  Go through the mundane routine of school, work, family, friends, clubs, sports, and other entertainment.  Go to sleep.  Then do it all over again.  Why is our world so fast paced?  We literally live in a high speed time machine that is traveling down the road at a million miles an hour, to a land far, far away, in a vast space of nothing.  Why don't we ever take the second to see what we have?  Take that minute to breathe, and acknowledge what our life is, and has become.  

Upon doing this, I see something amazing.  All of the things that I find myself, or have found myself complaining about at some point in life, are not worth all that time.  Instead, I have found, that the act of complaining only makes things worse.  Due to this recent discovery of the obvious, I have made it one of my personal goals to stop worrying, stop complaining, and just live life.  And in doing so, I hope to use what I have to make the best out of life.

God gives us all gifts.  It's just a matter of how we use them.

"That may not be the talent you have, but you are very talented at other things."
-Dr. D. Brouwer


I am blessed.  Allow me to explain.  I could quote the Bible.  I could give some theories that some theologians have.  Instead, how about this?  ...I have something incredible.

I have never had a good history.  Yeah sure, I have been able to be involved, but it hasn't been anything that I could declare as deep.  Relationships for me, on the surface, have been a breeze.  Seeming to come easily for me to seek out one person.  In reality, it has been a struggle.  Although the signs may not all be there, I have not been satisfied in relationships for my entire life.  Every time it was ever brought up, everything was 'good', 'alright', 'copacetic'.  Nobody has been able to rouse the word 'excellent' or 'perfect' out of me.  

About a year ago from now, I met someone at church.  I butted in on conversations to make myself seem funny.  At the time that seemed right, but looking back, man, I must have looked like a loser.  Eventually, I got a name out of her, as she did from me.  We casually chatted, and I tried to gradually move into a flirty nature with her (with the greatest attempt at witty banter that I could possible conjure).  Then, one day, it was all gone.  We barely texted, rarely chatted in person, and most certainly thought it was all over.  
Something was different.  It was seemingly more difficult to pursue her; making it difficult for me to believe that I was even attractive in her eyes.
Just about seven and a half months ago, she and I began to converse again.  It was kind of random, but natural and fitting.  We started to hang out, one on one, and began to show our attraction towards each other.  Soon enough, we were officially dating, title and all.

A little over six months later, and I have to say that this has been the most interesting, and pleasing six months I have ever had in my life.  No, we are not perfect, and sure as heck have had some stupid runs about horribly redundant topics.  But there is one thing that keeps coming back to me.  Nothing in my life has ever been like this.  And it is exciting.  I have never gone to so many places that I have never heard of.  I have never done all the things that I have done, if it wasn't for her.  From the places we have visited, to the talks we have had [about the most random things, at times], I can say that I wouldn't want it any other way.

Love, I thought, was a farce.
Marriage, I thought, was pointless.
Children, I thought, were a waste of time and money.

Now it is clear to me that all three of these things are already a part of my life, or will be a part of my life soon.  Patience leads to kindness; kindness leads to compassion; compassion leads to love.  And love is what I have for her.  A love that God has put on my heart.  An unfailing, never wavering, love.

It was all His idea.  My pursuit, that seemed pointless a year ago, has blossomed into something beautiful.  The greatest part about it is this: I know He has more in store for us.

His plan>my plans

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tell Me Again

I suppose this may serve as a continuation of thought, carried over from my last blog...

I got it!! I finally found a question that was fitting for me to ask, that had no answer.  There is literally no answer for my question.  Cannot be found in any text, any databases, or any historic archives.  Go ahead, try to give me the best possible answer you got....

What if I am too patient?

In dealing with people and situations, what if I am too patient?  What if I give so much of myself and receive none in return?  Is that even wrong?  Should I just do what I have to do, be patient and right for myself, and not worry about what someone else is going to do?

Is there ever a limit to the amount of patience one should have?

I know that it is written in the bible, to have patience and to be patient.  I am also well aware that it is morally right to be a patient person.  Not only that, but it makes life, and relationships with people, a heck of a lot easier.  But is there ever a limit?  Is there a point that could be reached, where it is acceptable to have a lacking in total patience?  Okay, allow me to attempt to dissect my thoughts, and put them into logical layman's terms.  So, according to the bible, I see that there is no limit to patience, nor should it really be questioned.  Simple as it says, just be patient.  Morally acceptable limit...I am unsure if there is one.  I mean, patience IS noted as a virtue.  So what am I supposed to do when I have reached my boiling point?  Am I just supposed to challenge myself, push on, and fight with all possible patience?  Is it something that I will forever be able to do, because I trust in God.  I know that I have had plenty of help from God.  My entire life I have dealt with things that were obviously impossible to tackle, without the help from God.  So is it that simple?

Here is where this thought stems from:

Another thing I have pondered about recently is why I moved home from Tallahassee, and transferred schools in the first place.  I know that I may have made a smart decision scholastically and morally, but what about for myself otherwise?  Well, I came back to do better in school and get the degree I wanted (only a final year left...success).  Everything seems to be working out.  I got a job right away [and have two now].  I began an incredible relationship with someone that I can confidently see myself spending some time with [ ;) ].  Things are great!  But then the living situation...

I moved back home.  In with the family, that loves me oh so much.  (I say that in jest, but I know they actually have love for me.  Just lacking in their expression at times.)  It started off fine.  I was working daily, and they were paying me no mind.  Then it must have set in.  They realized that I will be living with them permanently.  I soon got sick of it.  After my first year back at home, I came to find out that there is a bit of a standard favoritism in the house.  As well as a little power control aspect of the flow of the household.  I slowly migrated to hours spent inside the confines of my own room, daily.  This routine eventually grew on me.  I was perplexed as to how this was going to work.  So it was decided that I was going to make an attempt to move out.  Nearly six months later, and I'm still here at home.

I just don't know what it is.  I can't really see why.  I know I was led to come home for a reason.  I felt it in my heart.  And it weighed heavy, as I mustered up some strength to finish up my last semester at FSU.  So here I am, sitting here, wondering why I came home.  I can see the positives (obviously stated, in the previous paragraph).  But why does this negative of living in the house bring me down so much?  The other issues of school, work, and my personal life were easily taken care of.  I constantly ask myself, why do I have to go through this?  What am I learning by this?  God, what are you teaching me here?

Maybe it's just patience.

As an aside, a recent thought that has been resonating in my mind:

I am extremely envious of my brother's relationship.  Every time I hear them talk.  Every time I see them interact.  Sometimes I just wish that it was that easy in my relationship.  It's okay...I'm patient.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I am lost.

I don't know all of the technical psychological terms, but I will do my best in completely describing my present thoughts.  I feel like I am slowly changing as a person.  I know, and am well aware, that everyone changes as they go through life.  But I feel like I am noticing it in myself.  And frankly, it is scaring me a little bit.

To start, I used to be someone who had no problem being open with certain things in my life.  General information, if you will (minus all of the personal things).  I suppose it made me quite personable and welcoming, as a friend.  Well, recently I have noticed that I am changing in that aspect.  I am more likely to internalize a feeling that I have, rather than go on and tell anyone about it.  I feel like it is benefitting me in avoiding bad/negative situations.  I think maybe that is the one thing that I idolize my father for.  He has such a natural ability to keep things to himself, like some sort of FBI agent.  I think that he may use that ability too much, forcing some strained relationships.  I feel like over time, it can cause me to become too distant with certain people.  But I wish I could avoid certain situations, easily, without hesitation.  I have been told that there is an easy way to avoid falling for the usual maze that my mind creates, in its own thoughts, and it seems quite simple; control my thoughts.  Yeah, well I know how to control my thoughts.  I know how to think to avoid complications, but there are still times where I fall into a rut of thought.  I am sure it is clear to see, by some sort of facial expression or tone of voice.  But I want to eliminate that in between; the obvious.  I want to be able to go through my day, and withhold information and hold back from letting people around me know that "something's up."  But maybe this is just a phase.

Also, I am a tad bit scared about my future.  Which comes off to me as strange.  I know I can be quoted, as of late, telling all about how great my life is going to be and how I am so confident in that.  Recently, however, I have noticed a change in the pattern.  In my usual thought, I discovered that I am in terrible fear.  I hear how my father friends professors, etc.   And I can't help but imagine my life falling into shambles, and having some sort of mid life crisis at 30 years of age.  I mean, it's only 9 years off.  And the more times I hear about what I'm going to be doing in 10 years (the typical conversation starter in an "upscale" social gathering of young adults), the more concerned I get.  I have no freaking clue!!!  I am just focused on finishing school, which is in a little under exactly one year from this date.  Okay okay, but what comes next??  The usual "real world" comment by the attackers and onlookers, as I notify them of my graduation.  What is next, honestly?  Some sort of job?  Is it a career specific job?  How will I even get that job?  What if I don't get a job?  Aside from that, what else may come?  I am not worrying necessarily, but I am just in wonder.  I know it too shall fall into place, but I sometimes wish I knew how it will.

maybe it's easier to confide
within the power of the mind
keeping information inside
while tracking thoughts like dollar signs
warning labels shout
levels of confusion without a doubt
but why would i wanna put out
when I used to let too much out my mouth

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What Am I Doing!?

Take out a mental sheet of paper, and a mental pen or pencil (to whichever you prefer).  Jot down some things that you like to do in your free time.  That free of class and work.  Then start a new list under it.  Title it, Really Now, What Do I Honestly Like To Do In My Free Time.  In other words, free from what you feel others may think, friends, family, GOD.  Make the mental note.  Now cross off the things that you know people, universally, would accept.  What do you have left?

I'm guilty of it as well.  Hiding things from plain sight, so that no one will see our struggles.  We call these things our vices.  Now that we have identified them, which I'm sure we all have before, what do we do with them.  In the past, I have made this mental list, AND checked it twice (a little Santa-esq).  Then decided, subconsciously, that it wasn't important enough for me to give it up.  So, what drives us to give up our vices and turn ourselves over?  When we evaluate this, it becomes evident that we aren't doing ourselves much good at all, in an attempt to rid the vices from our lives.  (Hence why we keep falling back to them)  But when we open up to someone about our vices, generally, the person is very understanding, and takes time to help us out.  We may be able to rid some of our vices, but some still remain, and there is a great chance that the vices that have been sent packing, may just come back for another visit.

What am I getting at here?

I am attempting to figure out solving my own issues with Mr. & Mrs. Vice, along with their kids, Joe Vice, Jane Vice, and Mike Vice Jr.  The worst of it all, is that once the kids move out, they always seem to come back to pay a visit, or try to stay for elongated periods of time.  When I am in re-evaluation mode, these vices seem easy to conquer, and I generally tend to put them out of heart and mind for a while.  Some stay away permanently, and some tend to wander around, only to come back to me.  Yes, I have gone to friends and family for these issues.  Usually a vent session, or a deep discussion.  But am I REALLY listening!?  I pay attention, hear the words, comprehend it, but something doesn't stick.  See, a seed can be planted, but it will never grow into a plant unless it is given necessary attention.  Okay, so we need to pay more attention.

How are we supposed to pay attention?  What are the methods of this, "pay attention"?

There are a few ways I have learned this (and still learning it), but I have found that the overwhelming push to reach for God, is the ultimate way of paying attention.  In other words, pay attention to God.  And yes, do this before you go run and give advice on how to conquer a vice which you haven't gotten past.  And most of all, do NOT deem yourself vice-less...ever!  These things are hypocritical.  We are told, "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." -Matthew 7:5.

A vice is defined as an immoral or evil habit or practice.  In other words, a vice could also be defined as a sin, correct?

We already know that sin is not something that we should be doing, by any means.  "We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind." -Isaiah 64:6.  Man, that sounds harsh!!  Praise be to God that He sent His son, Jesus Christ to cleanse us of our sins, "If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." -Romans 10:9.

So if it is so wicked and evil, God obviously sent his son for us, so we are free from all of our vices anyway, right?

The thing is, you have to "believe it in your heart".  And upon doing that, it becomes easier.  Have I conquered all of my vices?   Again, no I have not.  But am I saying here, right now, that I am going to declare myself rid of the vice that clouds my mind daily, and tempt me more than anything, on an hourly basis?  Yes, a resounding yes!

How am I so confident?

Because I have remembered someone that is very close to me.  With the wise words that have been spoken in the past, have been translated into the present.  I have to stop now.  I have battled with the vice for years, and it is time to hang up the bad habit, for good.  I have finally listened, and understood.  Words I have heard were spoken to help me.  How or why did I encounter such a helpful person?  One who can't even relate to me, in this aspect.  One who does not share this vice with me.  But that is just it.  It is a simple equation.  God has given me the opportunity, and all I have to do is believe.  "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Four People I'll Meet in Heaven

I can't see through the smoke, but I know someone is in here!!  I search around with my hands, staying low to the ground.  "Help!"  I can hear her now.  I feel my way through, into the adjacent room.  I can make out a figure in the corner, hunched over, protecting her face.  I swiftly move towards her and pick her up.  I make my way out of the room.  The side door is off to the right of the house.  I move through the family room, and turn the knob.  But I have lost my breath.

I am in a house.  It's foreign to me.  There are old pictures on the wall, family pictures, in different places.  "Matt!" I turn to my right, and see someone sitting at a desk.  She looks familiar, but I can't make out who it is.  I walk over to her.  "Why are you making that face at me!?  Don't you remember me?"  I shake my head, and turn my attention back to the open living room, analyzing it, trying to get some sort of clue as to who's house I'm in.  "Come with me, I have to show you something."  I follow her through a doorway, off to the side of the room.  As I enter, it is as though we have walked right into a different house.  She leads me over to a desk, a different one this time.  I look as she points to it, on the computer screen.  My old profile picture, my old old page.  I look at her for an answer, but she remains silent.  Instead, she leads me across the room, into a bedroom.  There, lays a girl on the bed, sobbing.  This girl looks familiar to me now.  "That was me, back in 2010."  I turned to my right, and notice that my guide has changed.  She looks different than she did when I entered into the house from the beginning.  I recognize her now.  I put my hands over my face, and try to hide the tears that have welled up in my eyes.  She puts her hand on my shoulder, "it's okay, Matt, that was a long time ago.  Come, I have to show you something."  We walk back, out of the door, through the house.  We reach the front door.  She opens it.  I follow her out, but there is no grass, no trees.  We are inside of a building.  It looks eerily familiar to me.  I am led up a flight of stairs and brought down a corridor.  At the end, there is an open door.  We take a step inside of the room, into what looks like a meeting.  I can now recognize a young version of myself, in the front of the classroom, talking about upcoming events.  I survey the room.  A Best Buddies meeting.  It concludes soon after we stepped into the room.  The supervisor calls the meeting to an end, and asks the young leader of the meeting to go see her.  He walks over to the instructor.  "Matt, I'd like you to meet Ashley.  She's a buddy.  She is fun, friendly, and just wants someone to talk to."  They shake hands and begin to talk.  I turn to my right, and I am standing alone in the room, watching as the scene plays out.  I know where this is going, and I want to get out of here.  I turn and make my way down the corridor, hoping to find out where my guide was.  I think, 'what kind of sick joke is this!?'  Right then, as I step out into the main hallway of the school, she appears.  "Matt, it's me, Ashley.  I wanted to show you what happened to me.  So, I took you back to my old bedroom, as well as back to our high school, where we met.  You know how hard it was to grow up and be different from everybody else!?  You know that I couldn't help it right!?  It wasn't my fault.  All I wanted was a friend.  I called you numerous times.  We spoke a few times, but then you stopped picking up the phone.  Then I went on the computer one day, and saw that you had deleted me off of your friends list.  Those things made me sad.  I remember crying for weeks on end, uncontrollably."  My throat locked, I try to speak, "I--uh...didn't mean to...I'm so sorry!"  I look down and close my eyes, in utter embarrassment and guilt.  I look up, she's gone.  Silence.

"He is risen!  He is risen, indeed!"  I stand in the back of the sanctuary, watching as Dr. Berry recites the famous lines.  It's Easter Sunday, and what appears to be a bright and sunny day.  It has been so long since Dr. Berry was the pastor at our church.  Why is he preaching now?  Had the church rehired him since I have been here last?  Impossible.  "Matthew", a voice calls out to me.  I look in the pew directly in front of me.  A man, maybe in his early thirties.  He looks familiar, like someone that I may have seen in pictures before.  I know I have never met him!  I stretch out my hand to introduce myself.  I blink, and he is standing up, in front of me. "Get that hand outta here!! You act like you don't know me!" My mind draws a blank...who the heck is this guy!?  Before I can argue, I am in his grasp.  He gives me a big hug.  He takes a step back.  "I knew you wouldn't recognize me!"  By now, he is yelling.  His voice sounds like he belongs in Little Italy in New York.  I still can't place it.  Strange enough to my eyes, I see that no one in the congregation has turned around, as if they don't hear his booming voice.  As my attention comes back to focus on the man, he has disappeared.  Not this again, I think to myself.  "I'm over here!"  I look off to my left, in the mid-left section of the sanctuary seating.  He is standing in the middle of the pews, nearly on top of the members of the congregation.  I find myself walking over to him.  Do I really have a choice now!?  As I approach him, I feel like I have entered some sort of sick, twisted dream.  He is standing directly in front of my family, but everyone looks younger.  I glance down.  My mother pulls her hair out of her face as she recites the Doxology, I catch the date on the bulletin.  April 16, 2006.  Why am I here right now?  I don't get this.  I look up and the man is standing by the door, which leads out of the church.  He motions for me to go towards him.  We walk through the door, and we are in the dining room in my old house.  How many years has it been since I have eaten here?  West Tropical Way?  Is it still 2006?  My dad turns to my mother, "I can't believe what has been going on in the Middle East!  It doesn't look too promising to me.  How many more years do we have to stay over there before we retreat?"  I survey the room.  Dad sits at the head, directly across from my grandpa.  He looks sickly and frail.  My memory is back.  He died that year.  Just two weeks after Easter dinner.  It was his 'last supper', if you will.  It looks as though dinner has been long over.  Only one chair remains vacant.  I quickly realize that I am the one who is missing from the table.  I can hear some music coming from down the hall.  My old room.  Why did I leave the table so soon?  Before I can comprehend that I had said that aloud, "You were only had a lot going on.  You made family the last on your list of priorities."  I hang my head, listening in on the back and forth conversation at the table.  My grandpa's voice is so clear and distinct.  It immediately jogs my memory.  Pieces in images of our times together flash in my mind.  Palm Coast, St. Augustine, South Florida.  He sounds like he belongs in Little Italy or something.  I look up, in an attempt to make the connection.  The man is gone again.  I walk down to the hall.  I open the door to my old room.  I am in a hospital room.  Did they change my room?  I look around and see my family gathered around the hospital bed.  Again, I am not in the room.  I make my way over to the bed.  I stare into my sick grandpa's face.  There are wires going every which way, around him and in him.  Dad is holding his hand.  "Hey Dad, Matthew couldn't make it.  He's on a school trip.  But he sends his love."  My grandpa's face turns into a grimace.  I can't bare to look at him like this any longer.  I turn to walk away.  I am met face-to-face with my grandpa.  He's standing right in front of me.  "Hey, it's me, your grandpa.  I knew you wouldn't recognize me before.  You didn't know me when I was that young."  I remain silent.  My mind is a jumble.  "I took you back to the last time you saw me, on Easter.  And I know you were on your school trip when I was admitted into the hospital.  Plus, I never wanted you to see me like this.  I hope you learned something valuable out of all this.  Family is the most important thing.  You put all of your things in life before your family, and the memories that we have together are a blur to you now.  I see you still have my dog tag..."  I look down, and his dog tag is resting on my chest.  "I love you Matthew...I always have."  I turn my head to his voice, but he has left me again.

Water is dripping from my face, as I swing my arms around the room, in search of a towel.  Darn it, I knew I should have just hung it back up on the rack.  I open my eyes.  The dripping water doesn't make my vision any better. Shoot, I need to put my contacts in!  I open the bathroom drawer and fish around for my contacts case.  I quickly open the top and place the contact in the middle of my right index finger.  I move it into my right eye, then follow with the same procedure for my left eye.  I blink.  I see a towel on the rack next to me.  Man, I would never make it as a mole.  I'm blind as a bat these days.  I dry my face off, and look into the mirror.  Wait a second!  That can't be right.  I wipe the mirror with the towel.  This doesn't make any sense.  Why are there burns on my face?  I walk into my bedroom from the bathroom.  I notice clothes laid out on the bed for me.  I don't remember doing that.  As I approach the bed, I realize that the clothes are charred.  That is, what's left of them.  I open my closet.  Nothing.  I leave my room, and make my way out into the hallway.  I am in my old house in Miami.  I run downstairs.  I look into the family room.  There is a trail of blood that is leading to the front door.  I open the front door.  I am in a stadium.  It looks like the Orange Bowl.  It's a night game.  A balloon is being hit around the crowd.  I hear murmuring.  As the balloon gets closer, I notice that it is actually a blown up condom.  I blink.  It's hot outside, and extremely bright out now.  Did they play through the night!?  I hear screaming and pointing.  I follow everyone's finger to a woman in the front row.  She seems very drunk.  The crowd roars, as she lifts up her shirt.  I am in my grandparents house in Palm Coast.  I am in the bathroom.  I ran out of toilet paper!  I look under the sink.  Two magazines catch my attention.  I figure it'll provide as reading material, and pick them up.  I flip through them as I sit there.  I decide that I am going to take the magazines home after this trip.  I am in the cottage on the computer.  Dad comes into the office and tells me that he has to talk with me.  "Matthew, we see that you have been getting around our parental controls.  Can you explain the websites you have been visiting?"  I close my eyes and shake my head.  I open my eyes, and I am alone.  The room is dark.  I do not know where I am.  I hear a voice.  It sounds like my own voice.  The voice that never sounds right when you view the video of you being filmed, candidly.  "Why did you do the things you did?  No, no response to that!?  How can you ever expect to be looked upon with respect?  Honor?  You have disgraced yourself and your family.  What if no one was ever forgiving!?  Yes!  It was your fault.  You took it upon yourself to pick up a nasty addiction.  It led to your demise!  I don't care if you think I'm overreacting, because you know that you were wrong.  I was never happy with how you handled things!  I remember listening to your stupid sob stories about how you couldn't control yourself!!  You even went as far as searching for help.  No one is going to help you, Matthew.  No one."  I put my hands over my face.  I let out a scream.  God save me from my self.

"Matthew, my brother, open your eyes."  I open my eyes.  There is a very bright light coming into my room.  Wait!  I have seen this person before.  "Don't fret!  Yes, I know, you have seen me before."  Is this person a mind reader!?  "Get up."  I stand up.  In my room now.  All of my things are scattered around.  I search for something to bring with me.  I see my cell phone on the desk.  I reach for it.  "Leave everything."  Where the heck are we going!?  "Come, follow me."  I leave the room, quick on the heels of the person in front of me.  I would only be able to identify this person as a male, based on some distinct features.  He has a soft, yet deep voice.  His hair is long.  Course, but smooth.  He wears what looks like a tunic, or a robe.  Very ratty, by our standards, but very elegant in its own way.  He walks confidently, but his demeanor is gentle.  He leads me to an open field.  The grassy plain is shadowed over by trees.  "Do you know where we are?"  I shake my head.  "Here, let me show you."  He walks down a pathway.  We make our way to, what looks like, a lake.  The water is calm, still, quiet.  He turns to me, "don't fall behind.  I need to show you something."  He leads me away from the water, back onto the path.  We make our way into the trees.  It is hard to see any light, this far into the forrest.  The trees wrap around the path, sucking every bit of life that ever inhabited these parts before.  I am lost in my surroundings, and I seem to fall quite a ways behind him.  "Come close to me, I will lead you out of this darkness.  Do not be scared.  They're not as evil as they look."  I nod my head and come back on his heels.  Up ahead.  There is a break in the trees.  He places his staff on the branch of the tree, and it makes way for us.  We enter an open area.  The ground is still, yet so alive.  The plants sway in the wind, yet still stand erect.  There is a waterfall.  No, there are two.  And I can see more in the distance.  Where do they flow into?  I am perplexed, to say the least.  I see animals frolicking, with no fear of being someone else's prey.  I see people walking around.  They move slowly, yet still confident in each step.  There is a soft hum in the air.  The smell, is like nothing I have ever experienced before.  It is refreshing and strong at the same time.  The sky!  Yes, how could I not notice.  It is very bright, but it isn't hot.  This doesn't look real.  I turn to see my leader, bent down in a stream.  He is running water over his hands.  "Come, I want to show you something."  I walk over to him.  I crouch down, so I can see.  "Look."  He raises his hands out of the water.  "This was done to me, so you could be free.  Early on, your life was filled with confusion.  You got caught up in a lot of things that you feel that you shouldn't have. But when you caught yourself, you asked for God's help.  Why is that?"  Silenced, I shrugged my shoulders.  "Because God's grace was given to you, as a gift, through me.  And in times of struggle, you turned to God.  That is why you are here."  Still trying to process all that was being said, I was able to mutter out a few words, 'where am I?'  He put his scarred hand on my shoulder.  "You are in God's expansive kingdom.  Welcome."

That morning was hard for the Friedman family.  All of his family and friends were there, clad in black.  Tears were shed, and memories were shared.  As people left the service, there was an overwhelming whispering about Matthew's fearless efforts.  "He wasn't a fireman."  "He wasn't even supposed to be there."  A little girl, maybe five years old, walked up to Mrs. Friedman, "Thank you."  "For what, darling?"  "Mr. Friedman saved my life."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tree of Life

Every Saturday morning, when I was in elementary school, I used to go to Temple Beth Shalom in Miami Beach.  I would partake in various activities centered around the Jewish faith.  One of our common activities was music time.  During that period of what felt like forever to me, we would sing random Jewish songs.  Aside from the traditional holiday melodies, there is only one song that resonates in my mind.  It was called, It's a Tree of Life.  It went like this:
It is a tree of life to them that hold fast to it
And all of its supporters are happy

This past Sunday was Father's Day, so I hopped in the car and made my way down to Miami Beach to spend the day with my father and the family.  They were dying to see a movie, called The Tree of Life.  I vaguely remember hearing about it, but it sounded familiar to me.  

Last week was a rough one for me!!  I battled temptation, and gave in several times, letting Erika and myself down.  I had also began a little internally kept, self-cursing method, in an attempt to keep my head level while battling with my own thoughts.

I sat in the theatre, about fifty percent full, as the previews rolled away.  On the black screen appears two bible verses:
Job 38:4, 7 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the Earth?  When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for Joy?

Why is it that when we get caught in the rain, we run to shelter, but if we are in an enclosed area when it rains, the sight and smell of rain entices us to run in it?  

As I watch the movie, I can't help but think about how incredibly made it is.  I have never seen a movie that has kept me thinking as much as this one.  Also, I am absolutely taken aback by how it is written and made.  The creativity is displayed in full form, keeping me alert and focused.  

I was in the garage with my father, attempting to reorganize some things.  I felt a cool breeze, and before I could think about it, the rush of rain echoed through the garage.  I stood at the edge of the open door and peered out.  It smelled sweet to my nostrils.  I took a step head outside.  The cool water ran over my head and neck, until I was nearly engulfed in the droplets.  

The movie concludes to the chatter of confusion.  Not one person, who was talking about the movie they had just seen, knew what the movie was about.  I would say that this movie is not for everyone, yet I would definitely encourage everyone to see it with an open mind.  It is the kind of movie that has the possibility of broadening ones perspective, but requires a large amount of thought and attention.

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

I was one of the few people who got the movie, and it changed me.  It gave me a fresh perspective on my life.  When I see how faith in God and Christ helps guide others' lives, even in fictional movies, I am moved.  I have a newfound passion and desire to serve the Lord even more than before.  I have made a promise to myself, that even in the worst of times, there is no reason to fret the possible outcomes.  Instead, I have come to terms with the fact that God is in control, and in those times, HE will be the one that pulls me out of the mess I am in.  I have the understanding that God is my tree of life, and as long as I hold fast to it, I will forever be well and happy!


I have also come to terms with the fact that God is not always going to be doing his work solo.  I have learned that he tends to use other people or things as vessels to put his works on display.  If the question is, where is my vessel!?  Just pray and be patient, because the day she comes into your life, you'll know! ✝

Thursday, June 9, 2011


is in the eye of the beholder...

It's truly amazing what you can find!  A place, hidden, 25 (or so) miles away.

We get off I-95, make a few turns and we are here.  Upon stepping out into this new environment, I am perplexed.  I look around, expecting to find some sort of direction, anything, a yellow brick road?  I look behind me.  I was attracted to this familiar sound.  The sound of sneakers on a gym floor drew my eyes upon the county jailhouse.  Looking up at this monstrous building, I swallowed hard.  Immediate thought, "This is going to be interesting."

The city of Miami is usually hugely overshadowed by the night life, the rich neighborhoods, and the vast amount of tourists. This is true for good reason.  As humans, life is lived in the fast lane, only slowing down in order to take glance at the luxurious things.  These material things are commonly perceived as beautiful.

So the routine begins: lights out at 11, up at 7.  A full list of projects and locations are posted on the wall waiting for us to move at full steam.  Breakfast is eaten, the lunch is packed and we are on our way by 830.  Monday:  Touching Miami with Love.  We begin our journey down the street towards Overtown.  It is about a 10-15 block walk, but it all looks the same to me.  With every run down house we pass, I think of how privileged we are to have the things we do.  We are greeted at TML with two great hearts, Jason and Angel.  They run the entire operation, helping children to be occupied and entertained through camps and after school day care.  Our job is to help with various odds and ends throughout the building.  We complete everything by 4 and head back to where we came.  Day 1=good, successful, but seemingly slower for me than the rest of the group with us.

The upper middle class families bask in their ability to eat, shower, and sleep in a comfortable bed whenever they please, without skipping a beat.  Why would anyone choose to not have these luxuries?  Why doesn't everyone have everything?  Why is it, that most people don't even turn their eye to those in need, as if they are more human than the underprivileged?

Tuesday:  Miami Rescue Mission.  We take the van a few streets over from our location.  Graffiti covers the walls of this part of the city.  People lay on the sidewalk.  They hug the doorsteps of the buildings.  We enter the warehouse, and get to work sifting through all of the materials in storage.  Apparently a party is going to be thrown by this organization in the near future and we turn out to be a BIG help in rearranging their things in an orderly fashion.  Before we depart, we are given a tour of the entire organization.  They cover a few street blocks, and the vast amount of buildings and employees make the Miami Rescue Mission possible.  Day 2=better than day 1; still a bit lackadaisical and a bit slow.

Homelessness surrounds us.  It is all over, yet we tend to ignore it.  We sit in our air conditioned cars with music blasting, as there are people walking by your window wondering...wanting a measly penny from you.  We walk swiftly on the street when we pass a person laying on the ground, and immediately place a tight grip on our belongings, as if the resting person is some sort of thief.

Wednesday:  Yvonne Learning Center.  We hop in the van and get on the road for a little longer of a journey.  As we pull off the highway, it becomes evident that I am the minority in these parts of town.  Little Haiti.  We arrive at the center and make our way inside.  Patrick, the said leader of the organization, greets us with great enthusiasm and starts the day off with his story of why he is where he is today.  As we walk through the school, the children in the classrooms stand and greet us with a kind good morning.  Then we are split up into groups, and  Patrick lays out a list of tasks to be completed for the day.  We conclude the day with me in a mango tree.  Patrick has an apparent affinity for mangos, and he went to great lengths to get them.  Odd to figure that, even though he was not the one in the tree.  He blamed his back.  I just hope, now looking back, that he didn't have a mango tree accident of his own.  Day 3=The best day so far!  Went by very fast, felt as though a lot was completed, and related very well with our leader, Patrick.

Why do the majority of people clench up and pick up speed as they pass by someone foreign to them?  Why is it that when people are met face to face with someone of the opposite race, they can't help but awkwardly say [with all of the nervousness possible in their voice] "hey. how are you?"  Why are 95% or more of the jokes told, racial?  Why are people so stuck on labeling by race?

Thursday:  second day at the Yvonne Learning Center.  Again, back to the lobby where we await Patrick's arrival.  I wonder what sort of adventure he may have in store for us.  I also ponder his thoughts regarding our work from the day before.  Sure enough, as he addresses us, the first thing he talks about is Wednesday's work!  He tells us that we all did a good job and he has a lot of things for us to do.  We get to it, and before we know it our half day there is over.  Goodbyes are said, and we drive from little Haiti for the final time on the trip.  It was a half day because we had a dinner planned for us back at our place of origin.  We have a little bit of down time, then we start to set up for the dinner.  Everything is in place just in time for the flood of people through the doors.  The less fortunate, the needy, the homeless, come in to receive a hot meal, a shower, and have the option of swapping out their clothes for some new, clean ones.  Day 4=Incredible!!  The day flew by, and it felt like it was the most productive day of the trip, even though there was a lot of down time between our morning work, and the evening dinner.

We expect so much from this world.  That is the problem.  Why do we live for this world; the things in it, the people in it?  What is so important that we need to have, all for us?  What we all need is God!  Jeremiah 29:13 says, You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  

We were told on Sunday, when we arrived, that the mission of the D.O.O.R. Network is to see the face of God in the city.  By the final day, I was able to comprehend that statement and I saw God's face in everything we did throughout the entire time we were on the trip.  The face of God shouldn't only be seen on a mission trip.  The face of God is something that should be seen every single day, in everything that we do.

Once I put my heart into it, God showed me true beauty.  The kind of beauty that you can't find in a magazine--the kind of beauty that you just might have to go to the slums of a neighboring city to find.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Perhaps Love

This is attempt number three at writing this blog post.  It has become increasingly difficult for me to piece together my thoughts into words, apparently...

This last week or so has been a moment of clarity and realization for me.

Why was I so afraid to say how I felt?  How come I had the facial expression down pat, the heart pounding away in my chest, searching for a way out, but the words would only get so far.  Reaching the tip of my tongue, only for my teeth to cut them off, out of sight and mind from the outside world.

Why don't we go to God for everything?  What the heck are we holding back for!?  God will not be mad, God will not ignore it, God will not look down on us in a negative light.  Justifications are useless at this point because God is waiting for us to tell Him.  He obviously knows our exact thoughts and wants, as well as our needs.  He is just allowing us to come around to telling Him.  I suppose this is His way to test our trust for Him, His will, and His strength.  Rest assured, and I promise, God will not be overwhelmed with our requests.
Luke 11:9-10 reads:
9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

Translation:  Come to God with everything, and He will give to you what you have requested.  This doesn't mean if you ask to win the lottery, He will give it to you, but you must seek it.  In doing so, trusting that God is there taking care of the situation and showing you the way.

I could escape the words for the moment, assuring myself that maybe next time would be best.  I sought advice about it.  When was the right time?  How would I know?  I sought advice from everyone BUT God.  

The other day, I was told about a song called Perhaps Love, by John Denver.  I listened to it while doing about 317 million other things.  I replied to my friend that is was a 'good song.'  Hindsight being 20/20, there is definitely a reason for her showing me this song.  Not to seduce me, or confess her love for me (which she doesn't), but for me to see what John Denver was talking about at a later date.  That day is today.  Immediately upon starting this post, this song came to mind.  I looked it up, and read the lyrics.  

Side note confession: I would love to become a writer.  I feel like I have enough in my heart to become one, but I am unsure if I am creative enough to put my words and thoughts into an intriguing format. :/

I found an interesting correlation between the words from Luke's Gospel and this song:
Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more

I prayed.  I asked for advice.  I asked to be shown the way.  I asked for a way out of my own head.  I asked for my head to be numbed and silenced, to allow my heart to be heard.  I understood that 'actions speak louder than words', but I asked that the words would serve as a form of clarity.

Outside of the door, curiosity is at its peak.  I glance at the door in wonder.  It seems as though there is something hidden by the door.  Something much more than what I can see from the outside.  So I knock, ring the doorbell, hoping that someone will answer.  I long for the creaking noise of the hinges, the appearance of the guard at the door, the ability to peer inside of the doorway for a moment.  A moment long enough to take a peak.  Relieving the tension, worry, and wonder; but not long enough to subside the desire to push aside the door for a longer, closer look.  

I made a promise to myself.  I promised that I would restrain myself from telling someone I love them until I knew for sure that it was what I felt.  I further promised myself that even if I wholeheartedly felt that way about someone, that I would have to hear it first in order for me to express my feelings.

When I am asked to come inside, my eyes become glazed over.  I don't know what to look at first.  I am unaware of how to think about what I'm seeing.  I regress to my infancy stage, taking everything in, overloading my senses.  I am unsure of how long I may be welcomed here.  I have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the ability to step foot in this foreign place.  I turn to the keeper of the place, and he has disappeared from the doorway.  I am alone.

I broke my promise.  I couldn't help it.  A feeling came over me, and as my heart pounded and the goosebumps rose on my skin, the words flowed from my mouth uncontrollably.

Looking around the place, in search of who was once there, I see a light.  Walking towards the light, I begin to hear a noise.  A noise like no other.  A noise that cannot be expressed by words, or relatable to any sound.  It is as though time has completely stopped, and I am so transfixed on the light that my stare cannot be broken.  Approaching the light, a figure is seen.  It looks like a person, but I am unable to differentiate who it may be.

Days later, in the middle of a deep conversation, the favor was returned.  Another promise had been broken.  Another heart handed over to its new keeper.  One who had given his heart, left with an open cavity that lay waiting, had been filled.

I am now close enough to see that there is a face in the light.  It has become very recognizable to me.  The look I see on the face is beautiful.  A face that poets write about.  A face authors write books about. A face producers make movies about.  A face flush red with a newfound feeling.  All things aside, four eyes now transfixed on each other.  No words are spoken.  All that is felt is each other's heartbeat.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


killed the cat!

Isn't that what they say!?  Is that my fair warning before I do something that may not deliver the result I was looking for?  Or is it some sort of child's play; a nursery rhyme to wipe away all the worry of the world?  Or is the world we live in so curious, that we are led to curiosity?  Because curiosity is defined as the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness, if you will.  Then, only for making a point, inquisitive is defined as given to inquiry, research, or asking questions; eager for knowledge; intellectually curious.

...intellectually curious.  Yeah that's it!

See, I was walking my dog tonight and I realized something.  I look up at the night sky when I'm overcome with a feeling of curiosity.  Or is it that I get curious about things upon looking up at the night sky?  Maybe it's the wonder of all that lies above me that leads to my curiosity; the curiosity that comes from a trusting in God, who knows all that has/will be my life.  Although I trust, why do I still become curious about things? I learned recently that having faith and trust in God leads to the questioning, due to our curiosity about things in our life.  I could just rack off about a million things in my life that I am curious about, but that would be pointless nonsensical material for this blog.


When I looked up tonight, I thought of three different things, and became curious about how they are in relation to my life.
1. Family
2. Erika
3. God

Somehow, now thinking about it, they all correlate with each other!

1. Family.  It is my biggest repressed memory, and my greatest outlook into the future.  I never repressed the memory of my family as a whole, because that would be extremely foolish of me.  It is the memories of how I have negatively affected my family.  My family, as most families are, is very dysfunctional!  The person-to-person issues range from the youngest to the oldest in my family.  Thinking about this tonight, I came to the conclusion that I want to end this trend.  I want everyone in my family to know I respect and love them, as I should.  And I also want them to understand that.  Which led to my curiosity. What will become of my family?  Better yet, the relationships that I have with my family members.  I want there to be close ties with my immediate family, and it to branch off from there, as expected.  I want to be there for my family, as they are trying to be there for me.  As we are all changing as individuals, that becomes harder for everyone, but I am striving to achieve that goal.  Even so, I'm curious as to how it is going to be in the future.

2. Erika.  Now writing this, I wish I could have saved this until the end in order to correctly collect my thoughts on the subject.  But, as I sit here, I do have all night to write this.  And I have definitely put a lot of thought into this one.  There's something I believe in called happening for a reason.  I suppose I will touch on this when I discuss my next area of thought from this evening, but I have had the feeling from the very beginning of our relationship that there was a reason that we started dating.  Her values, morals, personality, and, last but not least, her looks have blown me away from the first time we spoke, continuing to now.  This isn't going to be a sappy story about how I feel about her; more like my thought of curiosity with respect to her.  I thought about this for a long time on my walk this evening.  I am curious.  I am curious about her.  I am curious about me.  I am curious about us.  This is by no means meant to be a negative moment of curiosity.  Rather, this was a time in which I became excited!  I became curious of how she would do in school at UF.  I became curious about that popular question, 'where will you be in ten years?'  And thought about her in relation to that question.  I also thought about me in relation to that question, becoming even more curious about us, in relation to that question.  Again, this is the farthest thing from a negative thought!!  I am so fascinated with Erika that I'm surprised my mind hasn't exploded from a sensory overload yet.  Fascinated in a way that she leads me to be the most curious about her.  I am fascinated with her every move; [and] action.  Not in a weird creeper way, just the way that one thinks, when extremely attracted to someone else.  But it's weird for me.  (again, not a bad thing!!)  It's just an odd occurrence for me.  I have never been this interested in someone before.  Yeah I've dated other people, but I kind of went through the motions, hoping to catch a spark from rubbing together the flint and steel.  (Not a sexual connotation.  Flint and steel are two materials used before lighters, or at camp sites to light a fire from the friction caused from rubbing the two together.)  I see this as a great situation, happening for a reason, one filled with vast amounts of hope, care, and most of all; curiosity.

3. God.  In all honesty, where do I start!?  Here, these are my exact thoughts from tonight.  I know that I have a curiosity about my future, whether it be with my family or with Erika.  I also know that I am not worried about either one of them.  I am curious became I am excited!  I am excited for what God has in store for me!  God has provided everything for me for all 21 years of my life, without me being aware of it for the majority of those years.  Now I am able to come to terms with God and myself, and recognize the impact He has had on my life.  I am thankful beyond words, and have a sense of comfort in Him.  I know that God will always provide for me, and in my curiosity, He will help me to grow.  Grow in my family, grow in/with Erika, and of course grow within myself.  I have a feeling that God wants us all to be curious.  Curious about different things in our lives.  Curious about things in other people's lives around us.  And most of all, curious about how God is related to all of this.

I know this because I have learned that simply being curious is not the answer.  In learning to trust God with my every move, I have been able to become intellectually curious.